It’s not uncommon for newly minted head coaches to dig deep in their bag of magic tricks, reveal a good trick or two, and wheel out a performance among the new roster he now calls his team. Dallas Eakins, known as a good prospect handler with Toronto, seemed to have some input on a July 5th transaction that brought two Marlies into the Oilers fold.
Will Acton and Ryan Hamilton, two prospects in the Toronto pipeline, were key pieces to Eakins well-managed and very successful Marlies teams. They’ll now call the Oilers their team, and even more likely, spend large amounts of time in Oklahoma City as Barons.
Acton is a strategically placed center who plays a game most similar to Tanner House or Chris VandeVelde, two players no longer signed to OKC. He’s a 25 year old, four year collegiate guy with a hockey ceiling probably no greater than AHL play. This isn’t a knock on Acton because he gives quality minutes as a closer and penalty killer. Things that minor and major league teams always need. Eakins was favorable towards Will, enjoyed his mentality towards his role, and occasionally leaned on him for energy in late game situations. With no NHL experience, Acton likely falls the way of the Baron. For OKC that’s great news.
Ryan Hamilton is a bit more seasoned than Acton, and vastly different in his approach to playing hockey. Hamilton is a winger with a scoring knack. Having made the AHL All-Star team two years in a row, Hamilton began his career in the Minnesota Wild org under the tutelage of the Houston Aeros. He scores. He is a chance taker. He’s a thick 6’2″ and near 220, which makes him hard to jostle. In early 2009, in a trade with Robbie Earl, Hamilton seemed to find a second life with Toronto, and his numbers increased as time passed. He’s earned twelve games with the big club in Toronto, and although those minutes were somewhat protected, he’s been solid. He’s not an NHL gamer, but he’s got potential. OKC seems a likely destination, but don’t rule out a handful of games with the Oilers.
Back to my original thought. Eakins, having coached both of these fellows in recent seasons, is taking a large gamble by inserting himself into the GM of the Oilers decisions. A gamble I like because it brings the day to day coaching into the managerial world where, in an ideal setting, these two worlds can/should coexist. The problem is this; will Dallas be able to swallow a hearty “NO” from Craig MacTavish when these two players remain in the OKC pipe? I believe he will, but he’s also hanging himself out to dry just a bit by suggesting these players while the Oilers still lack so much.
I like both signings because I’m a selfish fan. Pretty great minor leaguers, and I like pretty great minor leaguers. So let’s all assume they’ll be Barons come October, thus being selfish together.